At the risk of oversharing, yes I am on a diet. But work with me, I think LinkedIn is just like my favorite candy. Just like the ingredients of that heavenly marriage of peanut butter and milk chocolate, LinkedIn needs a little something else to make it taste great.
Before I share what I think the perfect match is for your LinkedIn profile, let’s talk about how a job seeker should use LinkedIn.
Essentially the site should be considered a branding tool. What is branding?
In my mind, branding is the active state of networking when you’re looking for that next opportunity.
Branding is communicating your value consistently multiplied by frequency. So as an active job seeker that simply means you should be using the site every day to “advertise” yourself. Why? To improve your visibility so recruiters like me can find you.
There are many ways you can do that on the site. You can use endorsements, or ask/give recommendations; post comments to articles or in some way engage the community by sharing professionally relevant content. You can also join as many as fifty groups.
Let’s focus first on endorsements. To be clear the value of endorsements are much debated. My mom endorsing me for recruiting has dubious value at best. And at this point, anyone can endorse you for anything. However some data suggests that having endorsements pushes your profile to the top of the search results. The more often you have a key word in your profile, the more likely you are to appear at the top.
For my part I do think endorsements have value. The biggest reason is it becomes a simple networking tool. Whenever you endorse anyone, the recipient will receive an email notification as well as a notice when they bring up their profile. It allows you to make an impression. You can use it as a prelude to reach out to someone that you haven’t spoken with in a while.
So use endorsements as a proactive networking tool. Your endorsement activity will appear on the main screen of LinkedIn – the timeline. Again, it is about getting noticed.
The next way to improve visibility is getting or giving recommendations. Now be careful here. Think about a time when you’ve been oversold. Be strategic in the way you get or give them. I am always skeptical when I see someone with so many recommendations that I have to scroll down multiple times to see them all. Too many recommendations on your profile can easily become like the teacher from Charlie Brown – a lot of white noise that doesn’t give you the attention you want.
Recommendations can be very powerful if done right. Ideally try for a manager, a peer, and a customer if possible. Demonstrate to that potential employer that you not only understand the nuts and bolts of your profession, but that you understand the business of it as well.
Posting comments to articles or contributing content of your own is a way to increase your visibility on the timeline. Again being noticed is critical. People who are active are more likely to get contacted. Now the sticky wicket about comments or something you post is that you need to find your professional voice. Any type of content that is shared with a large body of people can be subject to intense scrutiny. LinkedIn is not Facebook. Professional decorum is vital to maintaining your brand. So when you share, think about what you’re sharing, pause before you hit submit, and make sure that is what you want to say to the marketplace.
Last you should look for different groups to join. It allows you to expand your professional reach to others with similar interests. Besides gaining visibility, this is another proactive way to network. As of this column there are over 1.5 million groups on the site.
When selecting a group make sure it is relevant to where you are professionally or where you want to be in the future. And also make sure it is a workable number. By that I mean don’t go out and join fifty. Pick just those that resonate with you. Are they active? Do they have a good moderator(s)? Is the content truly relevant for your needs? However, and perhaps even most importantly – what do YOU plan to contribute to the group you join?
Very last, the habits you develop now as a job seeker, in the way you interact with LinkedIn, need to continue when you find that next opportunity. The only thing that changes is the frequency. Obviously you don’t need to be as active, but you should not go dormant.
In short, LinkedIn is the milk chocolate shell that covers our professional lives. However as good as chocolate is by itself, it takes on different nuances when paired with different flavors. To make a Reese’s you need peanut butter (I make good on my promises to circle back!).
So a successful job search today combines the chocolate of LinkedIn with the peanut butter of a resume. Yes that’s right, two great tastes that a job seeker needs to remember to put together!